A WHITE WOMAN IN WEST AFRICA"
photographic project by VIRGINIA RYAN
and text by Professor STEVEN FELD
May 30, 2007 at 6:30PM
Cultural Center Foundation
Via Aventina, 3- St.Stephen’s School, Auditorium- presentation
Via Aventina, 7- vernissage photography exhibit
Thursday, May 31 -Friday, June 1 10AM-7PM
Saturday, June 2 - Sunday, June 3 11AM-1PM / 4-8PM
"EXPOSURES: A WHITE WOMAN IN WEST AFRICA”
is a photographic project by visual artist Virginia Ryan. The
60 images of herself in diverse domestic, private, and public
situations were taken by African and non-African acquaintances
and passersby between 2001 and 2005, when Ryan lived and worked
as an artist and member of a diplomatic mission in Ghana.
situate the images in a dialogue of art and anthropology, Ryan
invited anthropologist Steven Feld to write a text about whiteness
and photographic realism to accompany the photographs. Feld’s
text focuses on the complex and highly charged questions raised
by these provocative and often unsettling pictures:
image unleashes immediate questions about what might be going
on in the frame, both socially and visually. What social dramas
are on display about race, power, and gender? About masks, ritual,
and ceremony? About bodily adornment, clothing and appearance?
About social interaction in public? About skin, gesture, and
movement? Simultaneously, what photographic dramas are viewers
witnessing? Images of people caught unaware? Images more deliberately
posed but made to look off-the-cuff? What complicities unite
those exposed and those behind the camera? In all: what kinds
of performances are presented in these photographic juxtapositions
of Virginia Ryan with strangers and intimates, innocents and
collaborators? Does their viewing allow one to gaze through
the transparency of racial difference? Does their viewing make
one feel trapped in, or liberated from, the banalities of political
correctness and transcendental universal humanism?”
Virginia Ryan is an Italy-based internationally exhibited artist
who has lived and worked over the last 25 years in Australia,
Egypt, Scotland, ex-Yugoslavia, Brazil, and Ghana. Trained at
the Australian National School of the Arts, where she also taught
photography, she also holds a graduate degree in art therapy
from Edinburgh University. She has exhibited in numerous solo
shows and over 100 group shows in USA, Europe, Australia, South
America, and Africa. A sample of her photographic, painting,
sculptural and mixed media work, and bibliography of catalogues
is at www.virginiaryan.com.
During her 4 and one half years in Accra, Ghana, she founded
and co-directed the Foundation for Contemporary Art, in support
of African artists. Publications of her collaborative work and
in support of Ghanaian artists include Landing in Accra (Preferencze
Avanzate, 2002) and Almighty God and the Apostles of Accra (Parise
She is also the author of two memoirs, Where the Cypress Rises:
An Australian Artist in Umbria, ( Lothian Books, 2000), and
Strangers in Accra, and Other Stories (Afram Books, 2004).
Steven Feld is Distinguished Professor of Anthropology and Music
at the University of New Mexico, and Professor of World Music
at the Grieg Academy of Music, University of Bergen, Norway.
His honors include a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
fellowship 1991-1996,. fellow of the American Academy of Arts
and Sciences since 1994, and a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial
Foundation fellowship in 2003-2004.
His books include Sound and Sentiment (1982/1990, U. Pennsylvania
Press; J.I. Staley Prize, 1991); Music Grooves (with Charles
Keil, 1994, U. Chicago Press; Chicago Folklore Prize, 1995);
Senses of Place (edited with Keith Basso, 1996, SAR Press);
Bosavi-English-Tok Pisin Dictionary (with Bambi Schieffelin,
1998, ANU Press); Jean Rouch: Ciné-Ethnography (editor/translator,
2003, U. Minnesota Press).
His CD recordings include Voices of the Rainforest (1991, Rykodisc);
Rainforest Soundwalks (2001, EarthEar); Bosavi: Rainforest Music
from Papua New Guinea (2001, Smithsonian Folkways); Bells and
Winter Festivals of Greek Macedonia (2002, Smithsonian Folkways);
and the first CDs on his VoxLox label, Iraqi Music in A Time
of War: Rahim AlHaj in New York (2003, VoxLox), and The Time
of Bells volumes 1 and 2 (2004, VoxLox), www.voxlox.net.